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    I like how they effortlessly combine a user-unfriendly GUI with a user-unfriendly community.

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      Most 9front users are not unfriendly in my limited experience, in fact some of the nicest, most knowledgeable and patient people I have seen use 9front.

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        I disagree. As a recent newcomer to Plan9, and 9front, I found their documentation and IRC support very friendly indeed.

        Edited: Also, their GUI is not at all user-unfriendly. It’s not terribly discoverable, but once you know how to drive it, it’s incredibly user-friendly and powerful. It may seem like a strange nit to pick, but user-friendliness is not the same as discoverability. They’re orthogonal, and conflating the two has led to years of brain-dead ‘consumer’ UIs.

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          user-friendliness is not the same as discoverability. They’re orthogonal, and conflating the two has led to years of brain-dead ‘consumer’ UIs.

          Yeah, I think there’s a missed opportunity somewhere that there’s a difference between newcomer-friendliness (as in “can anyone pick this up without studying the manual”) and user-friendliness (as in “is it consistent and doesn’t drive you nuts?”, “is it powerful?”, “does it save you time?” etc).

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            The most obvious missed opportunity is, as usual, the opportunity to learn from people who’ve been working hard at these very issues for, oh, fifty years or so. The relationship between the effort needed to use a system and the results that can be obtained with a given level of effort, and the learning curve that connects beginners and expert users, has been painstakingly studied from many angles in the HCI community. There are even slogans like “low floors, high ceilings”… yet ignorance abounds.

            If anybody’s going to actually empower actual users, it will have to be hobbyists like the 9front folks. Consumer technology has long been pulling in the opposite direction; computing professionals are largely caught up in geek machismo and rationalization while serving our corporate masters; and academics are a cowardly lot locked up behind paywalls and tenure politics.

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              computing professionals are largely caught up in geek machismo and rationalization while serving our corporate masters

              Not to mention fashion, and wanting to be identified as “creatives”.

              I remember when Microsoft lost their monopoly courtesy the Web, and almost unanimously, software developers up and handed that monopoly to Apple :(

              Now, maybe, with Apple’s move to ARM (and possibly almost-completely nerfed MacBooks), we’ll have another chance.

              (Sadly my current bet is that we’ll choose “Linux layer on MS Windows”, marking the completion of a truly epic embrace, extend, extinguish cycle).

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                Until we’re a real engineering profession, like with mandatory membership in professional societies that can independently decide and enforce standards of ethical conduct and “best practices” that aren’t just fads, we’re all basically just overpaid labor. Craftspeople with contracts at best, unorganized day-laborers more often. I hope to see it happen in my lifetime, but I’m not exactly holding my breath.

                For an eye opening, read up on the history of the engineering professions, starting with civil engineering in the late 18th and early 19th century. We have a long way to go.

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                  I’m quite well versed in the history, and I’m still not convinced that it’s the right approach. We’re not engineers, for the most part, and that’s entirely reasonable. (I have an entire soapbox rant about the use of the term engineer to describe programmers who don’t have engineering degrees, and who aren’t doing engineering. Like myself, for over two decades).

                  There’s already been some discussion on licensing for programmers on Lobste.rs:

                  https://lobste.rs/s/91khhj/why_are_we_so_bad_at_software_engineering#c_lirfgi

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                    Fair enough. I suppose I could respond with this other post or let you hash it out with @hwayne who has Strong Opinions on the matter.

                    But I’m not saying every computing professional is (or should be) an engineer, any more than every medical professional is a doctor or every legal professional is an attorney. However, I do feel that the lack of an effective and independent governing body for those who are doing engineering, with all the consequences it entails, has inflicted an unfortunate amount of collateral damage on the general public. I had hoped that the ACM would fill that role, but so far they’re way too academic. In practice, inasmuch as any one has stepped up, it’s been the IEEE gradually colonizing our space.

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                      However, I do feel that the lack of an effective and independent governing body for those who are doing engineering, with all the consequences it entails, has inflicted an unfortunate amount of collateral damage on the general public.

                      Serious question: what do you consider “doing engineering”?

                      As one example of the difficulty: a litmus test could be working on life- or safety-critical software. So, say, not Kubernetes. But then you see the designers of B-series bombers using Kubernetes to run their system software. So … should anyone contributing to Kubernetes be a licensed engineer?

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                        I doubt there’s a crisp line between engineering and mere “developing” (coding, sysadmin-ing, etc). Also, as you point out, trying to grade the seriousness of a job based on the potential consequences of a mistake, per-incident, is pretty intractable. But it’s relatively easy to measure adoption, and that at least gives a sense of the breadth (if not depth) of the responsibility. If everybody’s going to use k8s (shudder) then yeah, those devs are doing engineering and should be held to a higher standard than if they were doing a one-off bespoke automation suite internal to some firm. Regarding depth, individuals making the decision to adopt dependencies have heavier responsibilities too. The aerospace and defense industries have a staggering amount of bureaucracy in their engineering processes, I would say to compensate for inadequate professional governance.

                        (Longest and most off-topic thread EVAR!!!!1! Personal best)

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                          Haha :). Derailing threads like the ARTC derails trains … anyhow …

                          How would you handle that transition? Imagine I produce an open source library that suddenly sees massive adoption. Goes from a few users to thousands, then maybe tens or hundreds of thousands, in quick succession.

                          Should I, as a non-engineer, be allowed to continue to support the project? Must I find registered engineers to join the project? Should I allow source contributions from non-engineers? Who fits the bill for all this?

                          It’d have a massive chilling effect on open source software and innovation in general.

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                            Since at this point the party’s been over for a while, and I’m really just waving my naked opinion around… let me flip it back at you. Maybe we need more sustainable and responsible funding models, rather than just pillage-and-profit? And, is the sudden massive industrial adoption of hobbyist-grade software really something we want to encourage? Hell, for that matter, is “innovation”? I don’t really want a lot of rapid innovation in my critical infrastructure, thanks.

                            But, you’re pointing out symptoms of an immature field under an unhealthy amount of pressure. My opinion doesn’t really matter, of course. I just think that rising public awareness (and inevitably “outcry”) about the inherent dangers, will eventually force some form of change. Again, probably not overnight. But it’s a pattern we’ve seen play out before.

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          user-unfriendly community

          How so? Their brand of not holding your hand is pretty well-known.

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            Well, there was a long time that they ironically used Nazi imagery to promote their stuff. I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with this “joke”, but I also understand people who found this content at the very least extremely unnerving (as I do personally as Jew).

            It seems they added and anti-Nazi symbol that links to Nazi punks fuck off, which I applaud, but the fact that they’ve had to do this I think speaks volumes about who their artwork attracted.

            I happen to really like Plan 9 and the effort 9front has put in to expand on the system, but I think to a large extent the damage has been done in terms of attracting normal every day users.

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              As a grandchild of holocaust survivors, and a fairly active committer on 9front, I don’t recall anything that made me uncomfortable – though, there’s a relatively dark sense of humor about the project. You’re allowed to dislike dark humor.

              but the fact that they’ve had to do this I think speaks volumes about who their artwork attracted.

              Hm? I don’t recall any incidents that needed response – it’s just a general sentiment.

              I think to a large extent the damage has been done in terms of attracting normal every day users.

              The first image you’ll see if you look at our user-facing documentation is this: http://fqa.9front.org/goaway.jpg.

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                … which, to be perfectly frank, was one of the things that attracted me to 9front. That, and a quick browse through the propaganda page, convinced me that I’d likely enjoy the ambience.

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                Plan 9 is an operating system that doesn’t support a web browser. Normal every day users should not under any circumstances try to use Plan 9, and their branding helps to discourage such users.

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                  I think netsurf is now supported?

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                    Cool, thanks for pointing out the netsurf port. Which is still a work in progress, according to the readme.

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                  but the fact that they’ve had to do this I think speaks volumes about who their artwork attracted.

                  Seems more likely they did it to disambiguate the admittedly dark sense of humor for fellows like yourself than because of anyone being attracted to it. Or perhaps they added it because they do want Nazi’s to fuck off, not quite sure why this is being held against them.

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                    I’m not personally holding anything against them, they can have their project with their inside jokes and I think that’s perfectly good for them. And for anyone who joins in on the joke.

                    For the record, I happen to like extremely dark jokes. Even jokes about the Holocaust occasionally. But i don’t think that dark humor is going to attract a lot of people to your operating system. Also, I can like dark humor and find their jokes not funny. A picture of hitler with a joke I don’t find funny in the caption is just a picture of hitler, and to me that would seem weird and out of place.

                    I just happen to think that it’s indicative of a laisez fair attitude towards being generally marketable or something that a majority of casual observers would feel enticed to use. And again, I don’t think there’s anything WRONG with this, just that the way the present themselves is slightly abrasive, and at one point was even more than slightly abrasive.

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                    Mozilla used loads of Soviet-styled artwork in their heyday, that did not seem to make people shun them?

                    Note to 9front: use Genghis Khan-themed artwork next time. He killed more people than the Nazis (about 40 million which amounted to ~11% of the world’s population) but most people won’t know that. You can have edgy images of mass murderers without getting people all riled up.

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                      Oh, Mozilla took some flak for that. Which was hilarious, but some people definitely were offended.

                      It’s worth reading the entire story, as told by jwz - here’s a central quote in this context:

                      We had to convince them that these “open source” people weren’t just a bunch of hippies and Communists.

                      To that end, the branding strategy I chose for our project was based on propaganda-themed art in a Constructivist / Futurist style highly reminiscent of Soviet propaganda posters.

                      And then when people complained about that, I explained in detail that Futurism was a popular style of propaganda art on all sides of the early 20th century conflicts; it was not used only by the Soviets and the Chinese, but also by US in their own propaganda, particularly in recruitment posters and just about everything the WPA did, and even by the Red Cross. So if you looked at our branding and it made you think of Communism, well, I’m sorry, but that’s just a deep misunderstanding of Modern Art history: this is merely what poster art looked like in the 1930s, regardless of ideology!

                      That was complete bullshit, of course. Yes, I absolutely branded Mozilla.org that way for the subtext of “these free software people are all a bunch of commies.” I was trolling.

                      I trolled them so hard.

                      I had to field these denials pretty regularly on the Mozilla discussion groups; there was one guy in particular who posted long screeds every couple of weeks accusing us of being Nazis because of the logo. I’m not sure he really understood World War II, but hey.